Posted in Conferences & Events, Librarianing, professional development

Signal Boost: Submit a Proposal to Host Jason Reynolds in Spring 2022

Today’s a big news day, huh? Just on the heels of my post about the Kids’ Book Awards Finalists, Every Child a Reader announced that not only is Jason Reynolds extending his term as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature for an additional year, but that they are accepting proposal submissions from schools interesting in hosting an event with Mr. Reynolds! Events are likely to be held in April/May 2022, as Mr. Reynolds will be holding in-person events. The press release is here and you can read full details on the Every Child a Reader website.

If you’re not a school library, please consider getting in touch with schools nearby and collaborate with them on submitting a proposal. Other criteria, from Every Child a Reader, are as follows:

  • Audience for events should be in the 5th-12th grade range.
  • The location should have a system in place for how they will select two student interviewees in advance of the event.
  • Jason’s goal for the Ambassadorship is to visit small, underserved communities that don’t often have the opportunity to host authors.
  • Events must be private/available to students only.
  • Please complete this google form with your event proposal no later than December 1, 2021.

Good luck!

Posted in Librarianing

This year, Banned Books Week is more important than ever.

I was planning on taking today off from the blog to get my next round of picture books ready to go, and then a friend and colleague sent me this article from Book Riot. The Central York, Pennsylvania school board has put in a wide-reaching ban on books – from picture books through YA – that are culturally relevant and embrace diversity. This list was originally created by the district’s diversity committee.

Some of the books on this list include Andrea Beaty’s Sofia Valdez, Future PrezAlexandra Penfold’s All Are Welcome; Matthew A. Cherry’s Hair Love, and Grace Lin’s A Big Mooncake for Little Star. Look at those books and tell me what makes these contentious, problematic, or scandalous, except for the fact that they target people of color. What about a book called All Are Welcome could possibly be an issue? The issue here is racism.

Another book on the list, A Boy Called Bat, by Elana K. Arnold, has a main character who appears to be on the autism spectrum. Banning this book sends a message every bit as dangerous. Is the school board in Central York, PA, suggesting that nonwhite, neurotypical characters and creators should not be put into children’s hands?

There is no apparent reason for any of these books to be on a banned list except for the glaringly obvious one. Is this truly the world we want to create for ALL children? Is this truly the world we want to live in ourselves?

Banned Books Week is coming up in less than two weeks. This year, it’s more important than ever to understand that our freedom to read is coming under attack Educate yourselves. Educate the families around you. Read broadly and encourage others to read different viewpoints.

You don’t have to love everything you read. You don’t have to agree with everything you read. But it is not on you, or on me, or on anyone, to tell others what they are forbidden to read. In a society where Mein Kampf remains on bookshelves but All Are Welcome isn’t, Banned Books Week is still necessary.

I’ll be making sure to keep reading and writing about books that represent the world I want to live in, and I’ll be working on displays for my library – I’d love to see yours, if you create some, too. You don’t need a library or a classroom, either: let your bookshelves show off who you are!

To view the Diversity Committee Resources, now banned by Central York, PA’s school district, click here. The equity list of banned books is here in Word format.

Time to get to reading and sharing, my friends.

Posted in Librarianing, professional development

Adventures in Canva: Romance Flyer

I know it’s not kidlit-related, but I made a thing and wanted to share! I’m still trying to play around with templates in Canva, so I tried my hand at a contemporary romance flyer that I can display at my little teller window at circulation. Here’s what I came up with:

I didn’t put in titles, QR codes, authors, because I want to keep it unfussy and hope it sparks conversation. If this works, I’ll give it a shot with some YA titles, some MG titles, and display them by our pick-up station, where patrons grab the books they requested. I’m trying to create opportunities for browsing in a space were we can’t browse for the moment, if that makes sense. Let me know what you think, please!

Posted in Librarianing

Padlet is ACES for RA!

Sorry about the mid-day posts these last few days. I’ve been in branch, and too wiped to write posts the night before. I’m working from home for the rest of the week, so I’ll be back to my scheduled flurry of posts during the day.

What’s up in the land of Professional Development? Well, I’ve discovered some more fun tools, thanks to the Library Voice blog. It’s primarily for school librarians, but I love exploring school librarian tools and lessons, because they have some great ideas. Sure enough, the Library Voice’s 25 Days of Digital Tools introduced me to some wonderful new toys to play with – and short videos on how librarians use them! The one I want to holler about today is Padlet. As a colleague put it, “It’s almost like Pinterest, without the ads”. It’s a virtual online bulletin board that you and your colleagues can share and work on together, like a Google Doc. This is fantastic for those of us in Readers Advisory, because how many times have you answered the phone or had a patron come in and ask for books, and have your mind go completely blank? I read over 200 books a year, but if a parent calls me and asks for picture books about dinosaurs, my brain resets to “567.9” or “How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?” What about the days when there’s no children’s librarian available and someone calls for RA? Having a padlet of booklists gives us the chance to collaborate on booklists with our colleagues and have RA at our fingertips when answering reference and RA questions in an area we may not be as knowledgeable about.


It’s free to start a Padlet, and you get three boards with your free account. Here, I’ve started my three: YA, Books for Grownups, and Children and Middle Grade Booklists. Once you establish your Padlets, you can add to each of them – and that’s where the fun begins.



Here’s a glimpse of my Children and Middle Grade Padlet. I can make any number of lists within the Padlet. Think of each Padlet as a binder, and within the binder, you have sections for each of your subjects. Here, in my Children’s and Middle Grade Padlet, I can make booklists with Arts & Crafts, Fun Facts, Realistic Fiction, Historical Fiction, and I can even deep dive into niche things like “Winter”, “Grandparents”, “First Day of School”, and more. You can add pictures, links, text, anything you want to make this resource yours.

I ran this by a few of my friends from our library system, and they loved it! So we’re collaborating on it together, and there are so many ideas, so many ways to work with this. I’m really looking forward to developing this over the next few months.

And now… I know I stick to kids and YA, but I’ll give you a sneak peek at my Romance padlet. Because I’m fairly new to Romancelandia, being a newish reader in the genre, and because everyone, EVERYONE loves Netflix’s Bridgerton, so you can expect to be getting a lot of calls and visits about readalikes (remember Downton Abbey?) I’ve started putting one together, so please forgive the patchiness – it’s in its fledgling stages.


Customize your background, how you want your info laid out, and share links for viewing and/or editing, all for free. Three Padlets gives you a lot of freedom to work, so you can get a real taste of it before thinking about whether you want to upgrade.


I haven’t started my YA one just yet – just created the list heads, so I’ll share when I have it a little more populated. You can also visit the Padlet Gallery to see other Padlets and get more ideas, and you can follow other Padlet folx! Very excited to play around and learn with this one. If you’re using Padlet, shoot me a link so I can see what you’ve got! You can find me here.

Posted in Librarianing

You CAN judge a book by its cover

I’ve been reading librarian Becky Spratford’s RA for All blog for a few months. She’s a horror fan – that’s how I found her blog – and she has some great Readers Advisory articles. Since RA is possibly my favorite part of librarianship, I get a lot out of her posts and I’ve started incorporating some of her ideas here. Today, I want to talk about book covers. Becky Spratford has some good posts on book covers; her Deep Dive Into Book Cover Design has links to interesting articles on book cover design, and her July post on making book covers work for us spoke to my soul.

See, I’m a merchandising fiend. When we were open to the public, I’d wander through my library shelves and put books that had great covers face-out, sure; I’d also put books face-out that needed some extra notice (read: low circ). I love making up displays with fun things to print out, and books to show off. Because in spite of the fact that we say we don’t want to judge books by their covers, we also say that a picture is worth a thousand words! A book cover is artwork, and we love to look at art. We’re largely a visual people, after all. Book covers appeal to visual learners, inviting them inside to see what lurks beneath the surface.

Even putting together my Bitmoji library, I put thought into book covers. I’m creating multiple displays, after all! Do I put new books down that the kids may not have seen, since we’re all under quarantine? Do I put down favorites that will bring them to the library website? Do I plop in a mixture of both? It’s a dance. (I ended up going with both established favorites and new books.)

Display your book covers proudly! Think of them like your own little art gallery, and invite others to enjoy them, too. You may pick up a few new readers along the way.

Posted in Librarianing

Librarian without a Library

Yesterday at noon, I locked the door on my library and headed home. It was a closing I fought for, but not a closing I wanted. We’ve all had our lives upended in the last few days. I’m home with my kids and my 74-year-old mom (one of the main reasons I pushed so hard for our library to close, like many of you), and feeling unmoored. I love what I do, and I love where I work. I worry about my library kids and their families, who rely on us to stay connected to one another, to their schoolwork, to books and technology they may not have the chance to enjoy otherwise.

For now, I’m a librarian without a library, but I do have my books to review, my games to play and talk about, and my kids to cuddle and enjoy what I’ve got. I’m creating, because that’s what I need to do to stay upbeat and sane. Gabe and I will be making some more videos – I’ve promised Candlewick that we’ll be turning in a review of Timmy Failure on Disney Plus – and I’ve got a mountain of books to review and read, not always in that order. I’ll be working on some booklists and programming to share, because that’s what I do. That’s what I love.

In the meantime, there are incredible authors and artists out there, virtual field trips, and free education plans and videos to watch with your kids. There are so many out there; here’s a bit of what I’ve shared on my Facebook page:


Daily Doodles with MO WILLEMS! 1pm at the Kennedy Center site!

Saint Patrick’s Day storytime with author Laura Murray, reading her book, The Gingerbread Man and the Leprechaun Loose at School, on YouTube.

StoryMarch sounds like so much fun. Make a piece of art every day, inspired by a keyword list. The next day’s prompt has to relate to the first. Post online with the hashtag #StoryMarch. It started yesterday, but I’ll be jumping in with Gabe today.

This one’s from 2018, but how can you get tired of astronauts reading from space?

The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy has a daily shark storytime on Facebook Live at 10 am!

Oliver Jeffers will do a Facebook Live storytime at 2pm EDT every day!

The Cincinnati Zoo – home of Fiona the Hippo! – is holding a virtual safari, every day at 3pm EDT on Facebook Live, where they’ll spotlight one of their awesome animal friends, and include an activity we can do from home.

Dan Santat has printable badges in his Online Survival School for the Pandemic. I just earned my Social Distancing badge!

Gotta give love to my friends and my library system: Queens Library Kindness Readalouds.

Loads of education companies are offering free subscriptions to their services during this shutdown. ABC Mouse, Backpack Sciences, Dyslexia Academy, Minecraft Education Edition, and more are available. Here’s a list.

Head to Mars on a virtual field trip! Here’s a list of a bunch!

That’s what I’ve got, but there are so many out there. Just do some exploring, and don’t forget to utilize your library’s ebooks and audiobooks collections. Many also have access to magazines, music, and movies, so get some mileage out of those library cards.

Stay safe, and stay tuned. I’ll be writing more, I just need to get some books and themes lined up.

Posted in Librarianing

Updating reading lists is important.

You may have heard about the recent uproar over the Florida Department of Education reading list, which offered little diversity and consisted of very few recently published books (the most recent book for 3-5th grades is 20 years old).

I understand the importance of getting the classics in front of kids, but let’s be real: kidlit has radically changed in the last 5-10 years, let alone the last 20. Our kids have radically changed, too, and giving them books that don’t speak to 90% of their experiences is a quick way to discourage them from the joy of reading. It’s just not a great way to go.

I see a lot of lists when I’m at that children’s desk. Some are amazing – I asked one middle schooler to give his librarians and teachers, whoever came up with his school’s list, a high five from me when he saw them, because the books were great. Nonfiction selections included graphic novels and a book on creating Minecraft worlds. The fiction was recent, within the last 7-10 years, with some being only 6 months to a year old. I know I work in an urban library in a multicultural community, and for that, I’m fortunate; our teachers get what our kids need and want to read. But I also get book lists that have books on them that are so old, there may be only one or two repeatedly book-taped, repaired copies in the system: surely, there are more recent concept books than this one?

Anyway, after reading the School Library Journal article, I sat down and came up with some of my own suggestions to rejuvenate some of the school reading lists out there. I’ve read most of these books; what I haven’t, fellow educators have read, and enjoyed, and suggested that I read (and so, they go on my precariously lurching TBR). I humbly suggest considering some of these for future reading lists.

This is by no means a complete list – it’s just a hopeful start for a conversation. I’d like to hear what you’re reading, and what you suggest, so I can pass along the good word to the families in my community and in my life. My list is influenced by my living and working in urban Queens, New York, so I’ve worked to give it a multicultural feel that speaks to everyone living here. I haven’t included graphic novels and only included a smattering of primary nonfiction; I may work on a list for each of those next.

Books are in alphabetical order by author’s last name.

Books K-2

Books 3-5

Books 6-8


Posted in Librarianing

Annotated Bibliographies: Do you create them?

I’ve been on an annotated bibliography kick of sorts. I love coming up with lists and readalikes for kids, and it’s handy to have a list available when a parent or child comes in, looking for books about a specific topic. What started as an Excel spreadsheet with tab dedicated to popular topics has morphed into little brochures of books available in my branch, along with resources, that I have ready to give out.

While they’re not currently complete annotated bibs, since they’re limited to the books at my last library branch, I am going to add to them now, and aim for having some strong booklists and bibliographies available to use not just for the kids while they’re in the library, but for them to turn to for help with research and additional reading in the future.

One of the ones I’m proudest of is a piece I did on grief and loss, shortly after a friend of mine passed away after a bout with pancreatic cancer. Working on this one helped me work through my own feelings about my friend, and I hope that I’ve created the beginnings of something that will help families in the future.

I’ve also got a fun one about losing that first tooth, because I was amazed at how many books there are about the Tooth Fairy and losing teeth there are – and parents often don’t realize there are any! This helped me create a fun display. It’s very out of date – I don’t even have Erin Danielle Russell’s How to Trick the Tooth Fairy on this one, so I need to update it, stat.

I’m working on whether or not to create full annotated bibs for subjects, or separating them by age: resources, for instance, for babies and toddlers, picture books, then middle grade and/or YA. If anyone has feedback, I’d appreciate hearing how you structure your bibliographies. I’ve got one here, for instance, that I started for middle grade historical fiction, but I did include a Patricia Polacco book, because I feel like her picture books are weighty enough to translate to a slightly older audience.

Speaking of toddlers and preschoolers, here’s one I created, featuring sing-a-long books. I had a lot of parents asking me for books for their kids going into Pre-K, so I tried to pick some fun ones, leaning heavily on concepts and singing books. Here’s a concept-heavy bibliography on books about shapes, too.

These are, as I’ve mentioned, pretty out of date, but I’m excited about revising them and adding to them. I’d love to hear from anyone else who creates annotated bibliographies and booklists, and learning how you create yours.